Tumeric may not be the miracle spice you think it is

Despite its vibrant color and satisfying name, a new study has found that there’s no evidence that the spice is any kind of miracle worker. That is, turmeric’s main chemical component — curcumin — does not actually possess any medicinal properties.

We’ve been handed tumeric drinks and tumeric snacks and been told that it’s anti-inflammatory and heals the gut and yada yada and we just believed it because, why not? Well, apparently it doesn’t do much.

Nature reports that though there have already been “thousands of research papers and more than 120 clinical trials” on curcumin, the chemical merely tends to “give false signals in drug screening tests.”

Tumeric seems to have potential, but just doesn’t deliver.


A new review in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry sorted through thousands of research papers and over 120 previous clinical trials, and concluded that there is no evidence that curcumin has any therapeutic or medicinal benefits.

“Curcumin is a cautionary tale,” Lead study author Michael Walters, a medicinal chemist at the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis, told Nature.

Curcumin displays chemical activity that hints it should be used in a drug.


The lesson for researchers and the public alike may be to not believe everything we read.

Says Michael Walters, a medicinal chemist at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and lead author of the review,

“People accept what is in the literature as being correct and then build a hypothesis, even though it doesn’t hold up.”


But, it still sure is pretty, and we’d say that alone gives it some significant healing powers.